GPR at the Cross Bar Management Area (BLM) in Potter County, Texas

Last weekend brought me back to familiar territory in the Texas panhandle (or as Dr. Alston Thoms [Texas A&M University] puts it, “The Heart of God’s Country”); it was a return to The Bureau of Land Management’s Cross Bar Management Area, where I attended field school some eight years ago. Due to the amount of rain in the previous months, the landscape was lush and green – quite different than I remember it.

The goal of this little project was to collect ground-penetrating radar (GPR) data from three Antelope Creek (ca. A.D. 1250-1450) sites to test the feasibility of using GPR to identify structures as well as other features.

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We mapped out the grids (below), and–where possible–linked our GPR survey grid with the existing excavation grid. This will aid in the interpretation of our results, since we can glean further information from the previous investigations. Personally, I am curious to what degree we will be able to recognize the various signals from features, artifact concentrations, and previously excavated units. It will no doubt be a challenge to demarcate between natural and cultural anomalies.

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Once the grids were laid out, we hung flagging tape to mark the various transects (at 50cm intervals), then began our survey. One of these sites will be the location of a 2016 Texas State University field school (for information on attending the 2016 field school, contact Dr. C. Britt Bousman at bousman@txstate.edu), providing us with an opportunity to ground truth a selection of the various anomalies.

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In addition to the field school, one of Dr. Bousman’s students, Mike Mudd, will be focusing on the previously excavated site for his MA thesis research. I had the opportunity to work with Mudd prior to his return to the university to pursue his graduate degree, and am excited to hear more about his work at the Cross Bar Management Area as those efforts continue.

We will keep you posted on our progress as our efforts to make sense of these data continues, and we are looking forward to the 2016 Texas State University field school at the Cross Bar.

Acknowledgments

Many thanks to Ryan Howell, Adrian Escobar, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for requisite permissions and access. Thanks also to Sara Gale and the folks at GSSI for fielding our various questions.

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Written by zselden

Selden (PhD, Texas A&M University, 2013) is a US Marine Corps veteran, cyclist, kayaker, backpacker, hiker, climber, fisherman and general all-around outdoor enthusiast. His research is focused at the confluence of archaeological methods and digital technology, and he is particularly interested in the application of 3D technologies to archaeological problems, geometric morphometrics, network analyses, predictive modeling, archaeological theory, and archaeological science.